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Staff Favorites - John Majeski
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2011 Dry Creek Vineyard "Heritage Vines" Sonoma County Zinfandel
Review Date: 2-6-2014
Take note Zin lovers! For those of you who lust for the gracious, bountiful blue and blackberry-scented fruit, soothing warmth and pepper-inflected spice inherent in the best Sonoma County Zinfandels, take comfort in this luscious 2011 bottling. Crafted from 100 year old heritage Zinfandel cuttings grafted onto younger rootstock, this wine is an enthralling contrast between the venerable and the new, expressing its oracular old vine voice through new and vibrant pathways. A sinuous, savory blend of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah, pitched with pepper and mineral undertones that will remind you why Dry Creek Valley is still the beautiful beating heart of Zinfandel country.
2012 Rancho Zabaco "Heritage Vines" Sonoma County Zinfandel
Review Date: 1-14-2014
Film often informs my comments, so I just saw The Wolf of Wall Street with a flash shot of the iconic, massively bronze Merrill Lynch bull snorting like someone just stole his lunch money or last martini, which reminded me of the wine I just tasted with another bull on it, this one much smaller and on the label but inside the bottle just as much bold, brawny, effusive snort-and-stuffing as the bronzed behemoth. We're talking big bovine wine here, but in this case, one possessed of a deep red heart and fabulous imposing flavor, a wine with velvet hooves, if you will, or won't. As impressive as the full depth charge of pure, high-toned Zin fruit and lush spice is the unbelievable price. And to say I'm rather bullish on this wine, well...
2011 Pierre Henri-Morel Côtes du Rhône-Villages Signargues
Review Date: 1-8-2014
Winemaker Henri Morel spent a most memorable decade working with Michel Chapoutier and it shows in the elegant wines recently created under his own label. Cultivated from select vineyard parcels of limestone and clay soils carpeted in the signature white pebbles the size of dinosaur eggs, this attractively unoaked Grenache blend releases suave fruit and infinite charm with every swirl of the glass. Arresting flavors of bright cherry, blackcurrant and garrigue play upon the the palate, with velvety tannins leading to a structured, concentrated finish. Lovely wine and a truly remarkable value!
2011 Chalone Vineyard Monterey County Pinot Noir
Review Date: 12-6-2013
2010 Dunn Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 11-19-2013
For the 2010 Napa Valley vintage, the confluence of a long, cool growing season for most of the summer and a late, rather merciless heatwave contributed to many sensuous wines of harmonious brilliance, textural sophistication and great depth. The Dunn Napa Cabernet Sauvignon is an uncompromising, serious contender, capable of developing for perhaps two decades, but with the luxurious richness of the deep blackcurrant, brambly and mineral-laden fruit, beautifully finessed by suave, lavish tannins, you don't have to wait very long to enjoy it. Consider it a Dunn deal!
2011 Louis M. Martini Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 11-11-2013
It's been a long, hard Tuesday at the salt mine, nano factory, dog walk or tweet shop and you're feeling about as colorless and washed-out as the synthetic walls of your um, cubicle, so you grab a fresh, sizzling hot pie on the way home, finally get there and open a bottle of red wine. Again, you don't need a fancy, fifty dollar label to impress yourself, just something reliable and tasty enough to work with the pepperoni and shrooms. At only twelve bucks, this delicious Cabernet from the venerable Louis Martini winery fits the bill, delivering just enough substance, smoothness and focused, berry-scented flavors to satisfy the palate and make you actually look forward to another day at the nano factory...
2010 Chalone "Limited Release" Chalone Chardonnay
Review Date: 9-25-2013
When the opportunity presents itself to latch on to a famous estate label at a rock-bottom, crowd-pleasing price we rarely hesitate. Which means of course, your gain, no pain! The 2010 growing season was exceptionally cool in Monterey County, allowing for longer hang time, lower sugar levels and measurable acidity that contributed to graceful, more elegant fruit. Originally intended exclusively for restaurants, this surprisingly sumptuous Chardonnay delivers enticing flavors of white pear, green apple, crème brûlée,and lemon curd with a whiff of pineapple on the supple, round, satisfying finish. Perfect for late summer parties and entertaining as the long, generous daylight draws to an end.
2009 Hewitson "Old Garden" Mourvedre Barossa Valley South Australia
Review Date: 6-23-2013
These unirrigated Barossa Valley bush vines planted in deep sandy soils over limestone 160 years ago continue to produce illustrious clusters of complex, beautifully-concentrated fruit quite unlike any other expressions of Mourvedre in the world. Well-knit, warmth-inducing flavors of cherry, cloves, orange spice and rich chocolate permeate the palate, ballasted by the smoothest, most pliant tannins I've ever encountered in a Barossa wine. This iconic wine is a tribute to the brilliant folks at Hewitson who admirably nurture the ancient legacy vines that produce this memorable wine. Aptly named, it is truly a garden of earthly delights. Highly recommended.
2009 Domaine Girard "Tradition" Côtes de Malepère
Review Date: 3-22-2013
If you ever get the opportunity to visit the magnificent double-walled 'medieval' citadel of Carcassonne in Languedoc-Roussillon, with many battlements dating back to the fifth century (but largely restored in the nineteenth), you will appreciate the long, historic struggle of man to erect a civilizing fortress of monumentally enduring proportions. Fortunately the gracious grape has survived and thrived in the region even longer, most likely first brought to the area by Roman soldiers. Domaine Girard, in the little-known AOC Malepère, currently produces wines that bridge the stylistic attributes of elegant Bordeaux and robust Languedoc, delivering fleshy, full-bodied, hand-harvested fruit made from 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Franc. Fermented and matured entirely in stainless steel to preserve the pure varietal character, this supple, generous red will complement most traditional dishes from herb-scented lamb to a hearty beef casserole.
2001 Marques de Legarda Gran Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 12-31-2012
Superb aged Gran Reserva, especially from the much-heralded 2001 vintage, is hard to find, and the Legarda exhibits the textbook definition of a midlife without crisis. Beautiful wild strawberries, dried cherries, orange peel, tobacco, dust and leather emanate from this excellent Rioja. Ideal pairings would include roasted lamb shanks or a Morrocan chicken tagine.
1999 Fugue de Nenin, Pomerol
Review Date: 11-30-2012
Attractive, classic, well-aged Bordeaux is always a welcome addition to the holiday table, and this second label Pomerol from Chateaux Nenin still delivers considerable charm and elegance. Imbued with smooth, round Merlot flavors of sweet plum, ripe cherry and cedar highlights, it invites a rosemary-roasted Cornish hen or two to join it for dinner.
2009 Mercedes Eguren Cabernet Sauvignon Vino de la Tierra de Castilla
Review Date: 11-30-2012
This elegant, balanced, bargain Cabernet Sauvignon from Bodegas Eguren just vanished in all of our stores for good reason, but we're expecting to receive another shipment soon to grace your festive holiday table. An enticing aroma of delicate roasted herbs, savory blackcurrant and tobacco-tinged fruit leads to a polished palate with surprising depth and complexity. This tasty, defined red might explain why Spain still remains the greatest source for high-quality, value-priced wines in the world.
Berry Bros & Rudd No. 3 London Dry Gin 750ml
Review Date: 10-30-2012
As Britain's oldest wine and spirit merchant (1698), Berry Bros. and Rudd should know a thing or three about the traditional making of gin. Their No. 3 English Dry Gin is an unabashedly pure blending of fruits and spices selected and distilled in traditional copper pots in Schiedam, Holland. Made from Italian Juniper, Spanish oranges and grapefruit peel, with added spices including angelica root, Moroccan coriander and cardamon pods, this exquisitely crafted yet assertive gin remains, with its distinctively aromatic nose and prolonged finish, a highly-recommended personal favorite. The ideal suitor for a dry Martini or classic Gin and Tonic.
Fleury "Cuveé Robert Fleury" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 6-1-2012
If you're searching for a non-vintage Champagne with generous texture, abundant freshness, depth of character and a distinctive aromatic profile, search no further! This stunning barrel-fermented assemblage of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc....yes, I said Pinot Blanc, an odd wine out in most of Champagne, is a triumphant display of everything one can discover in a fine bottle of bubbly- sparkle, effervescence, layers of brioche, chalk, herbs, toast and lemon, ever-evolving complexity, with a lengthy, lingering finish.
Einstök Icelandic White Ale (12oz)
Review Date: 4-30-2012
With summer fast approaching we're all in need of a super thirst-quenching beer to alleviate the effects of absorbing too much solar energy on our bodies while we flare up the grill for a swirling smoke-athon (ok, admittedly I'm not Mr. Weber, more like one of the guys who stands around getting hot smoke in his face while acting like it doesn't matter).... anyway, just discovered a fantastic antidote to insurmountable thirst in the Icelandic Einstok White Ale, like melting an iceberg slathered in freshly-ground coriander and orange peel. Well, to be truthful, it's a witbier brewed with the same ingredients and tastes absolutely awesome. Beer here now. And in honor of the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the ill-fated Titanic, pouring an iceberg down your throat might be a good tribute.
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